Pork, Dried Hams, &c.
In choosing pork, either for present use or bacon, select that which is firm and hard, the lean of a lively red, and the fat quite white. Meat that is soft and flabby, the lean of which is dark and the fat yellow, is never good, and no doubt but it is general diseased.
Small pork, if nice and fat, is much finer for present use than that of a large size; but for bacon, never object to its weighing two hundred pounds; for the hams of large pork are much superior to those of a small size.
Hogs that are fattened on mast, should be fed for a few weeks, before they are killed, on corn, to harden the meat. If it is entirely fattened on mast, the lard will be oily, and the meat will drip a good deal when dried, and will shrink very much when cooked.
In cutting up meat, be careful to cut it smoothly: to have it rough and haggled does not only spoil the looks of it, but flies are much more apt to get into it than when cut smooth. Cut off the head and feet, take out the bakc bone or chine, ribs and leaf fat, and separate the shoulders and hams from the sides or middlings. For salting, use such tubs as are directed for salting beef, and sprinkle the bottoms with salt. When the meat gets entirely cold, if the hams are large, rub a tea-spoonful of saltpetre on the inside of each of them; rub it into the meat with your hand, and if you wish them very fine, rub well on each ham a small tea-cupful of brown sugar, with a tea-spoonful of cayenne pepper; then put on as much common salt as will be sufficient to keep them well. Never let meat spoil for want of salt; for if it will not imbibe all that is put on, it need not be wasted: boil and skim it well, and it will be just as good for stock as for any other, or it will answer for salting meat again.
You need not put quite so much sultpetre [sic] on the shoulders and middlings, but salt them well with common salt, and put them into the tubs with the skin downwards, placing the joints at the bottom. Separate the jowls from the heads, and salt them likewise; cut the ears from the heads, and reserve them for souse. The heads should be cooked in a few days after the hogs are killed, or they will not be fit to eat: they may be made into souse; but as they make very dark souse, and greatly inferior to that which may be made of the feet and ears, it is not generally liked.
The best time to kill hogs for bacon is about Christmas; and the meat should lie in salt for three to four weeks, according to the size of the hogs and the temperature of the weather. When you raise it, brush it a little, or wipe off the brine with a cloth; hang it up with the small end of the joints downwards: it is thought that it prevents them dripping in a great measure. Smoke you meat till it is well dried, avoided a blaze as much as possible, and even then, in wet weather, it will be well to make a smoke under it occasionally. Let it hang in the smoke house till spring; then take it down, examine it carefully, and pack it away in layers of hickory ashes: it is said to be far superior to wheat bran to keep out the bugs, &c., and may be very readily cleaned with warm soap suds. Hams will keep very well put up in little sacks, and dipped in lime batter; but, for a large quantity of hams, it will be found troublesome, and no advantage over putting them in ashes.
August 4, 2011
Raising, Slaughtering, and Preserving Hogs, 1839
This is from a book entitled The Kentucky Housewife by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, originally published in 1839. This appears on pages 92 and 93. (The diagram appears in the index.) The entire book is available for free on Google Books.
posted by Dora